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MN Officer Cleared of Wrongdoing in Shooting of “Pet” Deer

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April 11, 2012

MN Officer Cleared of Wrongdoing in Shooting of “Pet” Deer

By Scott Bestul

Every year, state wildlife officials warn the public to not mess with wild baby animals. And every year, couples like Jeff and Lee Ann Carpenter ignore those warnings. Last summer the Carpenters, of Forest Lake, Minnesota, “adopted” a pair of whitetail fawns they thought were abandoned. They fed them and, naturally, enjoyed watching them. Eventually the Carpenters attached collars to the two deer—which they’d named Pinky and Abby—so they could tell them apart, according to this story (and video) that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

That’s when DNR wildlife officials got involved. Believing the deer were escapees from a captive deer facility, they ordered that the whitetails be killed. So on the morning of January 14, a police officer from Forest Lake shot the deer. And the Carpenters filed a complaint against the officer, accusing him of “dangerous cowboy antics.” After an investigation the officer (whom the department is not required to name) was cleared of any wrongdoings cited by the Carpenters.

If you watch, as I did, the video accompanying this report, you’ll probably get the sense that there’s more to this saga than we’re hearing. And to be honest, while I totally support the officer and the DNR, I can empathize with the Carpenters. If you live in an area where deer and other wildlife roam, it’s perfectly natural to feel some kinship with those creatures. Heck, the folks who owned a farm I used to hunt once had a stray fawn show up on their doorstep. They bottle-fed the deer and watched it grow into an adult, an animal that would leave the woods and come to their yard if it heard them talking or playing.

What is the difference between that story and that of the Carpenters? My friends were never confused about whether their deer was still a wild animal.

 

Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

Comments (25)

Top Rated
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from 60256 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

"Dangerous Cowboy antics"?

What the heck is that supposed to mean??

Nate

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from smccardell wrote 2 years 1 week ago

As Alton Brown says... GOOD EATS!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from apowers1031 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

This family i knew ,who had a big farm, had this fawn show up on their porch about 8 years ago and they bottle fed it till it got big and it went back to the woods. but every year at the start of deer season till the end of deer season it would stay in their barn. i dont know what finally happened to it but last i heard he was a 10 pointer and layin in their barn. i mean i think its perfectly fine to raise one as long as it is naturally seperated from its parent.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MaxPower wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Can't wait to practice some 'dangerous cowboy antics' this fall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 2 years 1 week ago

As suggested above there is more to the story. I have heard the family's side secondhand. However the officer acted within the law and you can't fault him. I agree with Scott it is easy to empathize with the family. In hind sight if the Carpenters hadn't put the collars on the deer the whole mess could have been avoided. But who knew?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from aethughes wrote 2 years 1 week ago

We have a family of 9 deer that live on our property. Although they are not pets we do feed them and enjoy watching them very much, especially my 9 & 4 yr olds. If Anyone shot them they might as well consider themselves Dead Meat!!

-9 Good Comment? | | Report
from finnyk wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Mn. DNR and the officer seem to have followed appropriate procedures, and for appropriate reasons, so I personally don't have a problem with what they did. I DO have a problem with the way it was reported, though. "Slain" . . . "massacred" . . . !? These folks probably are good kind hearted people who may just not have had a clue as to the danger they put these deer in; but come on . . . "slain" . . . "massacred" . . .
Reporting like this must have been done by a reporter who is more concerned with ratings and becoming somebody, than by a reporter who is just trying to get information out there for others to consider.
That's the problem with the world nowadays - everyone has a problem that is worse than everyone else's and they are going to make sure everyone knows about it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from stick500 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

The biggest mistake the DNR made was not taking an hour or two to ask around the neighborhood to see if anyone knew anything about the collared deer. That would have saved a lot of trouble as well as the deers lives.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from thequam wrote 2 years 1 week ago

If the DNR thought they had escaped from a deer farm then why didn't they contact the deer farm and check to see if the farm was missing deer? It's my understanding that deer farms keep pretty close tabs on the number of animals have on hand, correct me if I'm wrong.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 2 years 1 week ago

shooting the deer was cowardly. he could have found a way to save the deer. there are a lot of people who have tame non-dangerous animals who are domesticated to varying degrees.
where does the DNR think dogs came from ? are not wolves the ancestors of domestic dogs.
sounds like the regulation needs to be looked at.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Taking in wild game animals is always wrong but I think the police officer or the DNR could have contacted the Carpenter's prior to killing the animals. I would be a little upset if someone walked into my backyard and fired off a couple rounds.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'm not positive, but I think the officers shot the deer because they were "escapees from a captive deer facility" and might pose a CWD or threat of other disease to the wild deer population.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 1 week ago

People who feed wild animals should at the very least get a big fine, jail time would be better.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pig Pen wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'll bet the meat is more tender.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tritonrider wrote 2 years 1 week ago

That's it, they are wild animals. If you want to ranch them get a permit. On the other hand I've got a chunk of old family farm I'm working on putting back in order and just quit clearing brush which is why I'm writing now, because I hit a downed tree I was going to clear that had a nest with a couple of young doves in it. No big deal to go work another area and give them time. Will enjoy keeping an eye on them from a distance for a while though.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

It dosen't say where the officer shot the deer. If it was in their yard( which I doubt) or in the vicinity of their house. The only difference that would have occured in WV would have been that the Carpenters would have been issued a citation for illegal possession of wildlife. Almost every year I had to deal with "Bambi" after it had grown up and hurt someone or was causing major problems in someones garden or shubs. Tame bucks are a major problem when the rut starts. People have been killed by them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Could it be MN has concerns about CWD and that is why they shoot deer that have escaped from a pen/farm?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Being from MN and knowing that CWD and TB is in the state makes me think that the biggest reason the deer were shot is the risk of disease. Entire elk and deer farms in MN have been culled in recent years due to this risk. I can empathize with the Carpenters but also see the DNR's justification. Most likely there is a lot more to this story but hopefully it wasn't a case of the officer just walking in and shooting. With collars on them they were obviously in the care of people and questions should have been raised and people contacted prior to the shooting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fat guy Aaron wrote 2 years 6 days ago

You can't have a pet deer or any sort of game and expect it not to be shot. The fact that it had a collar is irrelevant, nobody would know if it was a tracking collar or a mark for a high fence operation. In states like mine "Arizona" your average shot is usually so far away you wouldn't even be able to see a collar, even through your scope. A friend of mine once shot a coyote that had a collar on it, but he couldn't see it because the coat was so thick. Making pets out of wild animals is dangerous as well because if you don't care for them right they can get sick and spread it to the wild population. That's why most states don't let you transport live fish, fish are way more likely to get a disease in captivity, if you keep it as a pet it is likely to get disease and when you get tired of it and throw it in the lake, it will spread it. We need to keep nature natural.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 2 years 6 days ago

I'm a 100% in favor of people adopting stray baby deer. You don't have to waste your time stumbling around the woods hauling a rifle come deer season. Better still you can befriend the deer harborers and suggest they feed the deer thing that'll greatly improve their flavor later. If you take the time to befriend the deer as well, when deer season rolls around you can slip over to their place with a pistol, mosey up to the unsuspecting deer and dispatch them with a shot to back of the head Katyn Forest style, thus saying the meat for the freezer and the table.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 5 days ago

when you feed a wild animal, it is no longer wild! it's not fair to the animal and does more harm than good. this couple knew better!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 2 years 4 days ago

I don't think it's what they did, but how they did it that caused the problem. One of the photos of a dead deer shows residences in the background. Oh, well, it's spilled milk under the bridge now. Don't try to make pets out of wild animals, no matter how cute they look.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dasmith wrote 2 years 2 days ago

The Carpenter's are irresponsible people (do gooders) who messed with the natural order of nature. Did they contact DNR about the deer before the decided to illegally adopt them. Apparently not, so their actions led to the death of the very animals they thought they should domesticate. In some states they would have been charged with violating DNR laws. If they not put "cute clothing" on wild animals the animals would still be alive. I hope they learned something from this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 52 weeks ago

having the deer maybe wrong and surely they could see the deer wasn't going to run. But shooting that close to a residence? If I wuz the Boss, I would have some butt!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 52 weeks ago

Another reason I don't watch Cops!

Cowboys On Patrol!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from stick500 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

The biggest mistake the DNR made was not taking an hour or two to ask around the neighborhood to see if anyone knew anything about the collared deer. That would have saved a lot of trouble as well as the deers lives.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from thequam wrote 2 years 1 week ago

If the DNR thought they had escaped from a deer farm then why didn't they contact the deer farm and check to see if the farm was missing deer? It's my understanding that deer farms keep pretty close tabs on the number of animals have on hand, correct me if I'm wrong.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Taking in wild game animals is always wrong but I think the police officer or the DNR could have contacted the Carpenter's prior to killing the animals. I would be a little upset if someone walked into my backyard and fired off a couple rounds.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MaxPower wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Can't wait to practice some 'dangerous cowboy antics' this fall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'm not positive, but I think the officers shot the deer because they were "escapees from a captive deer facility" and might pose a CWD or threat of other disease to the wild deer population.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tritonrider wrote 2 years 1 week ago

That's it, they are wild animals. If you want to ranch them get a permit. On the other hand I've got a chunk of old family farm I'm working on putting back in order and just quit clearing brush which is why I'm writing now, because I hit a downed tree I was going to clear that had a nest with a couple of young doves in it. No big deal to go work another area and give them time. Will enjoy keeping an eye on them from a distance for a while though.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

It dosen't say where the officer shot the deer. If it was in their yard( which I doubt) or in the vicinity of their house. The only difference that would have occured in WV would have been that the Carpenters would have been issued a citation for illegal possession of wildlife. Almost every year I had to deal with "Bambi" after it had grown up and hurt someone or was causing major problems in someones garden or shubs. Tame bucks are a major problem when the rut starts. People have been killed by them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fat guy Aaron wrote 2 years 6 days ago

You can't have a pet deer or any sort of game and expect it not to be shot. The fact that it had a collar is irrelevant, nobody would know if it was a tracking collar or a mark for a high fence operation. In states like mine "Arizona" your average shot is usually so far away you wouldn't even be able to see a collar, even through your scope. A friend of mine once shot a coyote that had a collar on it, but he couldn't see it because the coat was so thick. Making pets out of wild animals is dangerous as well because if you don't care for them right they can get sick and spread it to the wild population. That's why most states don't let you transport live fish, fish are way more likely to get a disease in captivity, if you keep it as a pet it is likely to get disease and when you get tired of it and throw it in the lake, it will spread it. We need to keep nature natural.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 5 days ago

when you feed a wild animal, it is no longer wild! it's not fair to the animal and does more harm than good. this couple knew better!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 60256 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

"Dangerous Cowboy antics"?

What the heck is that supposed to mean??

Nate

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from apowers1031 wrote 2 years 1 week ago

This family i knew ,who had a big farm, had this fawn show up on their porch about 8 years ago and they bottle fed it till it got big and it went back to the woods. but every year at the start of deer season till the end of deer season it would stay in their barn. i dont know what finally happened to it but last i heard he was a 10 pointer and layin in their barn. i mean i think its perfectly fine to raise one as long as it is naturally seperated from its parent.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 2 years 1 week ago

As suggested above there is more to the story. I have heard the family's side secondhand. However the officer acted within the law and you can't fault him. I agree with Scott it is easy to empathize with the family. In hind sight if the Carpenters hadn't put the collars on the deer the whole mess could have been avoided. But who knew?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from finnyk wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Mn. DNR and the officer seem to have followed appropriate procedures, and for appropriate reasons, so I personally don't have a problem with what they did. I DO have a problem with the way it was reported, though. "Slain" . . . "massacred" . . . !? These folks probably are good kind hearted people who may just not have had a clue as to the danger they put these deer in; but come on . . . "slain" . . . "massacred" . . .
Reporting like this must have been done by a reporter who is more concerned with ratings and becoming somebody, than by a reporter who is just trying to get information out there for others to consider.
That's the problem with the world nowadays - everyone has a problem that is worse than everyone else's and they are going to make sure everyone knows about it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 2 years 1 week ago

shooting the deer was cowardly. he could have found a way to save the deer. there are a lot of people who have tame non-dangerous animals who are domesticated to varying degrees.
where does the DNR think dogs came from ? are not wolves the ancestors of domestic dogs.
sounds like the regulation needs to be looked at.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Could it be MN has concerns about CWD and that is why they shoot deer that have escaped from a pen/farm?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Being from MN and knowing that CWD and TB is in the state makes me think that the biggest reason the deer were shot is the risk of disease. Entire elk and deer farms in MN have been culled in recent years due to this risk. I can empathize with the Carpenters but also see the DNR's justification. Most likely there is a lot more to this story but hopefully it wasn't a case of the officer just walking in and shooting. With collars on them they were obviously in the care of people and questions should have been raised and people contacted prior to the shooting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 2 years 4 days ago

I don't think it's what they did, but how they did it that caused the problem. One of the photos of a dead deer shows residences in the background. Oh, well, it's spilled milk under the bridge now. Don't try to make pets out of wild animals, no matter how cute they look.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dasmith wrote 2 years 2 days ago

The Carpenter's are irresponsible people (do gooders) who messed with the natural order of nature. Did they contact DNR about the deer before the decided to illegally adopt them. Apparently not, so their actions led to the death of the very animals they thought they should domesticate. In some states they would have been charged with violating DNR laws. If they not put "cute clothing" on wild animals the animals would still be alive. I hope they learned something from this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 52 weeks ago

having the deer maybe wrong and surely they could see the deer wasn't going to run. But shooting that close to a residence? If I wuz the Boss, I would have some butt!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 52 weeks ago

Another reason I don't watch Cops!

Cowboys On Patrol!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from smccardell wrote 2 years 1 week ago

As Alton Brown says... GOOD EATS!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 1 week ago

People who feed wild animals should at the very least get a big fine, jail time would be better.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pig Pen wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I'll bet the meat is more tender.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 2 years 6 days ago

I'm a 100% in favor of people adopting stray baby deer. You don't have to waste your time stumbling around the woods hauling a rifle come deer season. Better still you can befriend the deer harborers and suggest they feed the deer thing that'll greatly improve their flavor later. If you take the time to befriend the deer as well, when deer season rolls around you can slip over to their place with a pistol, mosey up to the unsuspecting deer and dispatch them with a shot to back of the head Katyn Forest style, thus saying the meat for the freezer and the table.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aethughes wrote 2 years 1 week ago

We have a family of 9 deer that live on our property. Although they are not pets we do feed them and enjoy watching them very much, especially my 9 & 4 yr olds. If Anyone shot them they might as well consider themselves Dead Meat!!

-9 Good Comment? | | Report

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