“It was like a SWAT team. Nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” animal shelter employee Ray Schulze told WISN-TV.
Two weeks ago, Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis in Kenosha, Wis., when a swarm of squad cars screeched up and officers scrambled onto the property with a search warrant.
Were they hunting down an armed robber or escaped prisoner? Conducting a drug raid?
Incredibly, they were gunning for a 2-week-old baby fawn.
“Giggles” had been brought to the no-kill animal shelter by a local family who found her and worried she had been abandoned by her mother.
“When it made a little noise, it sounded like it was laughing,” Schulze told the TV station.
The shelter claims plans were already in place to transfer the deer to a licensed wildlife refuge when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources got wind of it from two anonymous callers and made plans to seize the “illegal” animal, citing state law that forbids the possession of wildlife without a state-issued permit.
The warden sprang into action, taking aerial photos of the barn to confirm the deer’s presence and then drafting an affidavit for the search warrant.
Schulze said agents began the raid by detaining shelter workers and then setting out in search of the fawn.
“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,” Schulze said.
DNR Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer said the law requires the agents to euthanize animals like Giggles because of the potential for disease and danger to humans.
“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,” Niemeyer told reporter Colleen Henry.
Niemeyer denied agents killed Giggles at the shelter. She said they tranquilized her and then euthanized her off-site.
“I don’t care where they would have killed her, it would have been wrong,” shelter president Cindy Schultz said.
The DNR says it will file no charges against the shelter.
But Schulze isn’t feeling as charitable. She plans to sue the DNR for removing Giggles without a court hearing.
“They went way over the top for a little tiny baby deer.”