The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission today confiscated a white-tailed deer being held illegally at the home of a Burke County resident. Wildlife enforcement officers issued a citation to the person holding the deer.
Because of specific circumstances surrounding this case, the deer was anesthetized and transferred to an educational facility licensed to hold and care for deer in captivity. Those circumstances include verifiable knowledge of the origin of the deer locally within Burke County and no opportunity for the deer to have been in contact with wild deer during its life in captivity. The deer has been held in an approximately 10-foot by 12-foot chain-link pen since it was removed from its natural habitat as a fawn.
Despite well-meaning intentions of the Burke County resident, North Carolina law does not allow the holding of wildlife by individuals without proper training and licenses, and then only under strict rules to safeguard the health and safety of wildlife resources, livestock and people. Further, current state regulations prohibit issuance of new licenses for holding deer in captivity.
“Typically, taking an animal from the wild ultimately leads to an unfortunate end for the animal because of potential impacts resulting from human habituation and spread of disease,” said Dr. David Cobb, chief of the Division of Wildlife Management for the Commission. “Illegally held captive deer often must be euthanized in order to protect free-ranging animals from disease and to reduce the threat of serious injury to the public from human-habituated deer. However, due to the special circumstances in this case, this deer was taken to a licensed facility where it may be allowed to remain.”
The Wildlife Commission urges people to obey the law and not interfere with young wildlife. Though fawns may look abandoned and alone, most often they are just waiting for the doe to return from foraging for food. An otherwise well-intentioned person may never see the doe and think a lone fawn needs help or food. Taking wildlife into captivity may be a natural reaction, but staying away is the best option. For those rare instances in which a fawn is actually abandoned, licensed fawn rehabilitators across the state are listed at www.ncwildlife.org.