In Indiana: Save a deer's life, face charges

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday January 29th, 2013

By DAN CALABRESE - Bureaucratic Rules 1, Common Sense 0.

Looks like no good deed goes unpunished in Indiana, where a couple that worked long and hard to nurse an ailing deer back to health are now facing charges for - get this - illegal possession of a deer:

Jeff Counceller, a police officer in the eastern Indiana city of Connersville, found the deer in 2010 curled up on a front porch with maggot-infested puncture wounds. He and his wife, Jennifer, kept the deer in an enclosure on their 17-acre farm and named her Dani, The Indianapolis Star reports ( ).

Indiana's Department of Natural Resources told the Councellers to return the ailing deer to the wild, but they took it home and nursed it back to health. The couple were charged earlier this month with illegal possession of a white-tailed deer, a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Jeff Counceller said returning it to the wild at the time "would have been a death sentence." The family told the Star they intended to return the deer to the wild once it was strong enough to survive on its own.

The Councellers tried to find a home for the deer at animal rescue operations, petting zoos and deer farms, but no one would take her. They say they didn't know it was illegal to keep the deer.

The deer vanished last summer on the day when the DNR planned to euthanize the animal after the couple's request for a rescue permit was denied.

It "vanished," did it? If this means what I think it means, way to go, Officer and Mrs. Counceller.

This is a classic case of government bureaucrats who understand nothing but the letter of the law, and absolutely cannot deal in this strange thing most of us would recognize as common sense. Obviously, the Councellers were not doing anything harmful to the deer population or to the ecosystem in general. They were merely being compassionate to one of God's creatures, which was allowed to stay with them when no other option that would allow the deer to survive was available.

The fact that the Councellers intend to fight the charges, even though their legal fees will cost them more than it would cost to simply pay the fine, underscores how ridiculous it would be to accept a criminal conviction for what was purely an act of humanitarian mercy. If anyone deserves a legal defense fund to be set up on their behalf, it's this couple.

And before you come forth with, "If they make an exception for them, we have to do it for everybody," that's complete Bolshevik. Prosecutors make decisions all the time about which cases to pursue, based on a whole host of factors. One of them is usually common sense. But I guess that's a disappearing thing, which is not surprising in government, where the last thing that's encouraged is common sense and the use of basic logic.


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