When Lilly the deer’s mother died, in the front yard of a Genesee County couple’s home, the just born fawn would have died too if not for the kindness of the family that raised it like a pet. But five years later, Lilly’s future is again in dilemma as the DNR refuses to allow keeping a wild animal at home.
TV5 first reported on Lilly the deer that had been raised like a family pet by the couple at Genesee County since five years. Lilly’s mother had been hit by a car and lay dying in their front yard. She gave birth to two fawns, of which one died and the other was Lilly, in a very bad shape.
The family took her in and raised her like any other pet dog or cat. But now the troubles have begun as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says it’s illegal to keep the deer in their home because Lilly, is after all a wild animal.
The DNR adds that Lilly has to be either put back into the wild or put down.
“Deer are wild animals,” said Brent Rudolph, with the DNR’s Deer and Elk program. “Even when they’re accustomed to being around people, they can still be very unpredictable.”
Since Lilly’s story came out, hundreds of supporters through their mails and facebook messages have shown their support towards the family and their will to keep Lilly. But it is not going to be an easy task.
“There are laws on the books that state we can’t take wild animals and turn them into private property, so the department has to work within the constraints that the laws that establish what we can and can’t do as well,” said Rudolph.
The DNR’s warning cannot be entirely neglected. According to them deers may look cute and cuddly but they are also wild and very unpredictable.
“People don’t realize, you know, the strength and how sharp their hooves can be and other things,” said Rudolph. “It doesn’t take more than a quick lash of a hoof to cause pretty serious damage, [which] most people don’t think about because they see a very gentle looking animal.”
The department also stresses the point that helping a wild animal by bringing it home in situations like this might look like the right thing to do, but in the long run, a wild animal should live in the wild.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to remind people whether it’s an animal hit by a car or a fawn you find in your yard, it’s very common for people to believe they’re doing the right thing by taking a fawn in, but whether it’s a situation like this or simply a case of being unprepared in general to deal with it, it’s not something we can allow to happen without any type of restriction,” said Rudolph.
The couple say that for the last five years they have kept Lilly as a member of the family and their neighbours have had no problem with a deer living in their urban neighbourhood. It was only when a neighbour’s guest saw Lilly, that they called DNR.
Lilly’s future is still unclear as to whether she would continue to live in the home she has always known or start afresh in a forest home. There is also the question if a domesticated deer will actually be able to survive in the wild.
The deer and its family are waiting for the final decision.