Fawn Euthanized After Armed Agents Raid No-Kill Shelter

Nine Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource agents and four deputy sheriffs, all fully armed, burst into the Society of St. Francis, a no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, near the Illinois border back in July. Shelter workers were corralled into an area near some picnic tables while agents, described as “armed to the teeth” by shelter employee Ray Schulze, made their way in after receiving two anonymous tips that the shelter was housing a fawn named Giggles.

The female fawn had been brought to the shelter two weeks earlier by an Illinois family who suspected she had been abandoned by her mother. The fawn made little noises that made her sound like she “was laughing,” Schulze said, and so was named Giggles.

The shelter had made arrangements with an Illinois wildlife preserve to take the fawn and, it was hoped, reintroduce her into the wild. Giggles only had one more day at the shelter when the state agents appeared in their squad cars with a warrant. Schulze described them as “like a SWAT team.”

As news station WISN 12 reports, after receiving the anonymous calls, the DNR’s warden drafted an affidavit for a search warrant. Included in it were aerial photos in which the warden “described getting himself into a position where he was able to see the fawn going in and out of the barn.”

Shelter employees were informed that Giggles had to be seized because the state of Wisconsin forbids the possession of wildlife. Schulze explained that the fawn was scheduled to go to the wildlife preserve the very next day to no avail, as he relates to WISN 12:

“I was thinking in my mind they were going to take the deer and take it to a wildlife shelter, and here they come carrying the baby deer over their shoulder. She was in a body bag. I said, ‘Why did you do that?’ He said, ‘That’s our policy,’ and I said, ‘That’s one hell of a policy.’”

DNR claims that the fawn was given a tranquilizer and euthanized off-site. According to DNR Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer, the law requires DNR agents to euthanize wildlife because of the potential for disease and danger to humans. She comments, “These are always very difficult situations for both parties involved, and we are empathetic to the fact of what happened because we know in our heart of hearts they tried to do the right thing.”

When WISN 12 News investigative reporter Colleen Henry asked why the shelter could not have been contacted first, Niemayer responded, “If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up.”

Under Wisconsin law, some organizations are allowed to house wildlife but only with a state permit. The DNR says that, despite the charges outlined in the warrant, the state does not plan to file charges against the shelter.

Shelter president Cindy Schultz says that she plans to sue the DNR for removing Giggles “without even a court hearing.” As she says about the resources DNR expended on the raid on the shelter and preparations for it, “They went way over the top for a little tiny baby deer.” Schulze says he still has nightmares about the raid and has yet to move Giggles’ feeding bowl or baby bottle.

Why indeed did the state of Wisconsin make such efforts, and use so many resources, to capture a young fawn? People complain about deer feeding on the foliage in their yards and about the animals wandering onto roadways and, too often fatally, encountering motorists. Giggles’ death is yet another example of the toll on wildlife in the face of human development and the destruction of forests.

Recently I saw a deer and two fawns huddled together beneath a giant transmission tower on a grassy area on the side of a road in central New Jersey as cars zoomed by. In England, the average lifespan of a fox in the wild has been reduced to two years; “lucky” ones can live to around eight years. We may not be able to stop the pace of development but we can revise policies and laws to better take into account the changing realities that wildlife everywhere are faced with.


Photo from Thinkstock


Barbara D.
Past Member 2 years ago

Ali, sure let's agree to disagree ~ par for the course isn't it?? You continue to base your opinions on whatever and I'll continue to form my opinions based on information I research. We'll always have plenty to disagree about!
Quirky habit I have~ researching. I just like to be reasonably sure I know what I'm talking about.
Till we meet again............

Alison A.
Alison A.2 years ago

I am assuming that you couldn't find a sock Babs!

Like I have now been forced to say.... repeatedly, my comment was about - and only about - the WAY this was done.

Do you have evidence to support the fact that they were not caring and compassionate people? Or are you just being slanderous because it suits your opinion?

It is quite apparent that our opinions are different, I think that we should just agree to disagree.... my dear!

Barbara D.
Past Member 2 years ago

Alison, by all means, feel free to make uninformed, irrelevant comments about anything you like.
I'm not sure what purpose it serves, but if it makes you happy...........
Let me ask though ~ are you assuming that these were *caring, compassionate* people were doing a *good* thing because Care2 told you so or because it's a Bambi story?

Alison A.
Alison A.2 years ago

You have had your say throughout this post.... repeatedly! How about you put a sock in it and let someone else have an opinion.

I can pick and choose what I like, it is called freedom of speech, if you don't like it, don't respond.

Barbara D.
Past Member 2 years ago

Alison, you can't pick and choose what particular detail you want to criticize; many factors contribute to how situations are handled. You don't know why the authorities felt this had to be handled as it was.

Babs???? No, no, no, my dear. Not a good choice at all.

Alison A.
Alison A.2 years ago

Hi Babs! We meet again!

I see that you have brought your rudeness with you, it is nice to see you both!

I do not need you to repeat your many posts over and over again, I was commenting on the fact that this was 'over the top' and that the resources used were a waste of tax payers money, when it could have been done in a better way.... that was it! Not the legalities, like I said those were irrelevant, just like your reply.

Barbara D.
Past Member 2 years ago

Alison, you're right ~ you know nothing at all about why this fawn had to be confiscated.
I'll grant the actions taken seem *over the top*, but again, you don't know the details or the previous history.
Saving animals is one thing, but when humaniacs ignore health and safety concerns and legalities they're not only harming the animal itself but, as in this case, potentially risking the health of the entire deer herd. When they do it repeatedly, in absolute defiance of the law and reason, *good people* get a very bad reputation!
Believe it or not, Alison, experts in these matters DO know what they're doing and they do it to preserve the greater good.
All you're doing is saving one animal and to h*ll with all the rest.

Alison A.
Alison A.2 years ago

I am not going to pretend to know about the legal side of this seizure, but it is quite irrelevant, hiding behind 'procedure' does not make the way they did this OK. Caring, compassionate people who were just trying to do good things in this cruel world were frightened and an experience like that could scar them mentally for life, it was totally unnecessary; they compared this to a drugs raid... ridiculous!

Anyone who thinks that this is a good way for their taxes to be spent - a helicopter, trained, armed officers and many people working on this raid for days, possibly weeks - must have a hole in their head. Not to mention the way they have tainted the reputation of this no-kill shelter.

Red tape is not an excuse to cause mayhem, this could have been dealt with rationally and not the typical hot-headed, thirst for death method that we have come to expect where animals are concerned.

Barbara D.
Past Member 2 years ago

I guess you didn't bother to find out the reasons for the seizure and the multiple illegalities in this case. There are valid, legitimate reasons for the laws that prevent non-licensed individuals from housing wildlife, preventing the spread of diseases, and why you can't transport animals across state lines.
And throw in a little reverse bigotry ~ now Wisconsin is the hotbed of redneck ignorance. The majority of Care2 commenters seem to agree that redneck ignorance is confined only to Southern states.

Mark D.
Mark D.2 years ago

This hit squad on a fawn is just the tip of the iceberg of criminal practices from the Wisconsin state government. www.wiwildlifeethic.org