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Your tax dollars at work.

Connersville couple faces jail time for saving deer

A central Indiana police officer and his wife could face jail time for rescuing an injured fawn that state natural resources officials condemned to die.

WTHR reports that Jeff and Jennifer Counceller of Connersville could face two months behind bars if they are found guilty of illegally harboring a wild animal.

The couples’ troubles stem from Jeff’s decision to rescue an injured fawn two years ago. The 14-year police veteran found the vulnerable animal on the porch of a home while responding to a call.

“I was gonna put her back in the woods, but I [saw] the injuries and I knew they were life-threatening so I called Jennifer,” Counceller told WTHR. Jennifer, who is a nurse, said she “couldn’t let her just die there.”

“We called her little orphan Dani,” Jennifer said. “She’s definitely changed our lives.”

In more ways than they could have imagined. The Councellers built an enclosure for Dani as they nursed her back to health, knowing full well that they’d have to release her back into the wild one day. They planned on doing so last summer as soon as the corn crops matured enough so that Dani would have enough to eat.

The couple was about six weeks away from letting Dani go when they received a visit from a state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer. He told the couple that they would have to obtain a rescue permit in order to keep the animal, but Jennifer was unable to do so.

“[DNR] basically just told me that I was in illegal possession of the deer and that they would not give me a rescue permit,” Jennifer told WTHR. Even worse, she was informed that DNR planned on euthanizing Dani.

“She was a threat to society is what they said,” Jeff told WTHR.

DNR originally planned on shooting the deer, but a veterinarian was located who could euthanize her with a deadly injection. But on the day the deer was scheduled to die, someone left the gate to her enclosure open– the Councellers insist it was not them– and Dani managed to bolt to freedom.

The couple is now facing criminal charges.

“We’ve never had any criminal convictions. We’re good people,” Jennifer told WTHR. Jeff calls the effort to prosecute them “a complete waste of taxpayer’s money.” But the couple isn’t afraid of going to trial.

“I feel like I’m going to stand up for what I know is right,” Jennifer said.

The Concellers don’t know what became of Dani, although Jennifer said she “knows in her heart” that the deer is among a group that sometimes visits their property. She said one deer does not run away nearly as quickly as the others.

“I’m happy she’s with the other deer and that she’s getting to live her life,” she told WTHR.


Asked by Ballad at 3:18 AM on Jan. 30, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • DH and I were in a similar situation with a fawn that got trapped behind some fencing on our property and had severe lacerations on his head. Luckily, we have a licensed wildlife rescue clinic near us and they were able to heal and release him. We became member supporters of the rescue clinic and have been able to assist in the release of birds we have rescued and they have nursed back to health.
    (a sea gull and a hummingbird)

    They should just go to court and plead the charges out, perhaps they can get more help as they have gone to the media. We would have done the same thing if we didn't have a wildlife clinic to help us.

    I wonder why she couldn't get a permit when they to told her to apply for one.


    Answer by tessiedawg at 8:57 AM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • I would take those charges. If I knew I did the right thing & they were just being jerks. But it's bs.

    Answer by funlovinlady at 8:16 AM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • That's stupid. Hey you saved this deer? Sorry. Illegal. We have to shoot it.


    Answer by staciandababy at 9:02 AM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • Because we are compassionate human beings?

    Answer by Dardenella at 11:25 PM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • We have a deer problem here and I do not know what it is like there. Many of our deer are put down each year. There are just too many and then they inbreed because they are "cut off" for other groups of deer. Deer are also destructive, here at least they destroy headstones at the cemetary which is a large problem)
    He is in law enforcement, surely he knew they needed a permit to keep a wild animal more than just a couple of days, and even then you could get in trouble if you are reported. So I find that curious.
    Here the animals a butchered and made into ground meat and given to those at shelters and soup kitchens and food pantries, not just wasted.
    I understand their kind hearts. I have rescued squirrels and birds and the occassional possum. Snakes and lizzards are simply relocated lol. It is hard not to help, although that would be the natural order of life..
    I do thing the DNR were being jerks but they have regula

    Answer by Dardenella at 11:16 AM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • Wow. that is crazy. I am glad the deer got away. Why is a deer a threat to society?

    Answer by booklover545 at 11:20 AM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • I was concerned that the deer would become too friendly with people and end up on some hunter's dinner table because she didn't know the danger.

    I understand why there are regulations; you don't want every wanna-be backyard vet to be taking in wild animals, possibly trying to keep them as pets. Still, with the wife being a nurse, she obviously knew what she was doing.

    I'm glad to hear that the surplus deer, when killed, are given out as ground meat to soup kitchen and the like. I've always said that would be a good way to handle serious overpopulation. Once in a while, someone comes up with a sensible plan. Like the canned salmon that gets handed out to food banks happened because sea captains got tired of throwing accidentally caught dead fish overboard when the salmon season was over and they were going after mulllet. They petitioned the government to use the salmon as a nutritious food source for the needy.

    Comment by Ballad (original poster) at 11:55 AM on Jan. 30, 2013

  • And you care why?

    Answer by Anonymous at 6:08 PM on Jan. 30, 2013