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Ind. DNR wants charges dropped in deer rescue case

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

The Councellers said they had intended to release the deer once it was strong enough to survive on its own. They tried to find it a home at animal rescue operations, petting zoos and deer farms, but no one would take it. They applied for a rescue permit but were turned down.

Then, last summer, the deer vanished on the very day the DNR planned to euthanize it. The agency then asked for charges to be brought against the Councellers.

A Facebook profile supporting the couple — Drop Charges Against Connersville Police Officer — has drawn more than 38,000 likes, and an online petition calling for the charges to be dismissed has attracted more than 30,000 signatures. The page lit up with triumphant comments following Friday's announcement.

Pence said Wednesday it appeared that conservation officers had properly followed state law barring residents from keeping wild animals. But he also said he had asked the DNR for a briefing and noted that Hoosiers clearly love animals.

The Decatur County Prosecutor's Office, which handled the case because Jeff Counceller is a police officer in Fayette County and works with prosecutors there, urged state officials to review the law.

"We hope that the Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana legislature will take this opportunity to review that statute and decide if matters like these allegations should be handled as crimes or infractions in the future," the prosecutors' statement said.