FOREST LAKE, Minn. (AP) — Forest Lake residents who took in two deer seven months ago are angry that police shot and killed the animals in their yard over the weekend, but the Department of Natural Resources said the deer posed a health threat and had authorities known, they likely would not have given the homeowners permission to put collars on the deer.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Monday (http://bit.ly/z0IvaB) that the case is one where compassion for animals conflicted with state laws and rules preventing wild animals from being domesticated.
The Department of Natural Resources said Jeff and LeeAnn Carpenter never notified state or local officials of the deer. And when they put collars on the deer, that essentially meant the deer could no longer be seen as wild — and posed a health threat to other wild animals.
"If he had contacted us, I think we could have corrected the problem without having to destroy them," said Capt. Greg Salo, regional supervisor for the DNR's enforcement division. "The minute he took them as fawns and put collars on them, he sealed their fate."
Jeff Carpenter said he is not to blame, and the DNR is trying to make a point that if people help deer, the deer will be killed. He said his family got no warning when they suddenly heard gunshots Saturday morning.
"This could have been handled 100 different ways, and every other way would have been better," Carpenter said. "It's an outrage, and I'm not happy."
Carpenter said his family put collars on the deer so they could tell them apart from other animals.
Salo said the DNR began getting reports over a week ago about two deer with collars in the area. The DNR told Forest Lake police to kill the animals if they were seen, and that's what happened.
"With CWD (chronic wasting disease) near Rochester and bovine tuberculosis up north, we really have zero tolerance when it comes to protecting the wild herd from disease," Salo said.
He said neither the DNR nor police knew Carpenter or his land were connected to the animals.
"It's a bad set of circumstances," Salo said. "The deer were on his property, which makes sense because of what we know now. If I could have picked a different place to kill them I would have."
Carpenter questioned the DNR's statement that neither DNR officials nor Forest Lake police knew the deer were connected to him or his property, saying the officer had to walk onto his land to shoot the deer.
"There's no way in hell they can justify what they did on our property," he said. "They should be apologizing."
The DNR frowns on homeowners feeding wild deer or taking in fawns. It recommends people leave young animals alone because the mother is often nearby.
Had Carpenter applied for a permit to domesticate the deer, his request almost certainly would have been denied, Salo said. It's illegal to domesticate wild animals under Minnesota law.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.