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Trouble is, what the Councellers did is against the law. And more than two years after rescuing the deer, and more than six months after conservation officers began an investigation, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources wants them prosecuted.
Jeff Counceller faces up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail for illegal Fendi Peekaboo Goatskin
The agency's website has general guidelines for the public when it encounters "abandoned" wildlife. For starters, animals that are alone might not be abandoned. Handling them can leave them with a human scent their mothers will want no part of. And wild animals can carry diseases and parasites that can transmit to humans.
An Indiana couple who rescued an injured deer fawn, nursed it back to health and raised it to maturity face the possibility of jail time and a fine after state officials charged them with a misdemeanor for harboring the animal. Jennifer Counceller and her husband, Jeff, face up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.(Photo: The Indianapolis Star)
In July, the agency issued an eight page report and asked for a special prosecutor from another county to handle the case. It is unclear why the charges are being sought now six months later. Connersville is about 61 miles east of Indianapolis.
would have done the same thing."
Indiana couple faces jail after rescuing injured deer
The charge illegal possession of a white tailed deer is a misdemeanor, but punished to the fullest could cost the Councellers up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
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It's not entirely clear when or how the natural resources department became aware of Dani, but there is a reference in the report about a conversation that took place in June between a conservation officer and someone else about a penned deer on the Counceller's 17 acre farm.
There's also a petition drive and even a legal defense fund that's raised more than $500.
possession of a white tailed deer after charges were brought against him and his wife by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.(Photo: The Indianapolis Star)
But the case has caught the attention of roughly 6,000 people who have "liked" a Facebook page set up on the Councellers' behalf. The page calls for the charges to be dropped against a couple they see as being guilty of nothing more than kindness to an animal.
"We never wanted it to come to this point," said Jennifer Counceller, who is a nurse at a Connersville hospital and a part time nurse at the county jail. "But we are willing to stand up for Dani and what our efforts were."
If left to its own, Jennifer was convinced the animal would die.
It was clear the fawn was injured. Counceller could see the wounds on her backside.
said Jeff Counceller, who is a member of the SWAT team in Connersville, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police and someone who once brought in a murderer who killed three people.
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"People are outraged at the DNR and that the government has nothing better to do than harass these people," said John Waudby, an Indianapolis man who created the Facebook page after hearing about the story.
With other police calls to answer and nothing he could Fendi East West Tote do for the deer, Counceller called the best person he could think of to help his wife, Jennifer, a registered nurse and wound caretaker for the couple's dogs and horses.
Story HighlightsA police officer and his wife, a nurse, rescued the deer in 2010They planned to return the deer, they named Dani, to the wild when it was strong enoughIf found guilty, couple could face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine
INDIANAPOLIS When Connersville, Ind., police officer Jeff Counceller first encountered the baby deer, she was curled up in the corner of a front porch.
The Department of Natural Resources will not comment on an open court case, spokesman Lt. William Browne said Monday.
So the Councellers took in the deer, which they named Dani, cleaned and dressed its wounds and nursed it back to health all with the intention of turning it out into the wild once it was big enough and strong enough to have a chance on its own.
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